Aker sells two 'on spec' ships to Crowley for $90M each

Aker Shipbuilding CEO Kristian Rokke entered into an agreement with Crowley Tankers, basedin Jacksonville, Fla. The deal includes added income based on performance.
Aker Shipbuilding CEO Kristian Rokke entered into an agreement with Crowley Tankers, basedin Jacksonville, Fla. The deal includes added income based on performance. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff)
Posted: August 22, 2012

Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, on the verge of closing just 18 months ago, has sold the two ships it built "on spec" to Crowley Tankers L.L.C., based in Jacksonville, Fla., for $90 million each.

Aker announced Monday that it has entered into a binding agreement with Crowley Maritime Corp.'s petroleum and chemical transportation group to buy the tankers, named Pennsylvania and Florida. The first tanker will be delivered by September, the second in February or March.

At delivery, Aker will receive a fixed purchase price of $90 million and later will get "a variable component based on the vessel's actual performance in the market."

Aker said it anticipated receiving "a nominal amount in excess of $35 million per vessel" in addition to the $90 million. "This amount has the potential to be significantly higher, if market conditions continue to improve," it said in a statement.

Future additional income "will adjust upwards or downwards" based on charter rates and other factors. "There is no cap on the amount of the annual payment," the shipbuilder said.

Crowley said the tankers would carry 330,000 barrels of petroleum products and chemicals, operating in U.S. waters under the Jones Act, which requires U.S.-flagged ships to operate among U.S. ports.

"Crowley is thrilled to partner with Aker," president and CEO Tom Crowley said. "We are bringing the best available technology to our customers, who understand and appreciate safety and operational excellence."

Aker president and CEO Kristian Rokke said the Philadelphia yard was "pleased to partner" with a first-class owner and operator like Crowley. "I am confident that this transaction will bring significant value to both parties for years to come."

Aker said the sale was "a major milestone" for the shipyard, noting, "We are greatly appreciative of the support we have received from many, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, City of Philadelphia," and parent company Aker ASA in Norway.

In February 2011, Aker received $42 million from Pennsylvania taxpayers - aid set in motion by former Gov. Ed Rendell - to build the two tankers that Crowley has now purchased. Aker ordered parts, but had no buyers.

Shipbuilding worldwide stalled during the global recession, and the lull triggered more than 600 layoffs at Aker.

In addition to the tankers just sold, Aker is building the first of two more crude-oil carriers for ExxonMobil Corp. affiliate SeaRiver Maritime Inc. that will be ready in 2014.

With the additional deals, Aker's workforce is returning to its levels of July 2010, when layoffs began.


Contact Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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